Conservative Republicans Pressing Leaders to Take Up Obamacare Replacement

Monday, 26 May 2014 01:58 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Conservative lawmakers in the House are lobbying GOP leaders to take up legislation for an Obamacare replacement before the August recess, but the future of the effort is still unclear.

Members of the conservative-leaning Republican Study Committee plan to lobby the leadership this week at the conference meeting by wearing lapel pins in support of H.R.3121, the American Health Care Reform Act of 2013, which already has 130 co-sponsors, The Hill reported.

The bill, led by Tennessee GOP Rep. Phil Roe, a doctor, would fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with an expansion of health savings accounts, medical liability reform, and the elimination of restrictions on purchasing insurance across state lines.

At the beginning of the year, the leadership vowed to pass a replacement bill in 2014, but time is of the essence if it is to make it to the August legislative schedule, and it could be difficult to get the 218 votes needed to pass it.

Roe said colleagues agree on about 80 percent of what should be in the bill, despite some disagreement on tax provisions, the Hill reported.

Nevertheless, some in the party oppose introducing such a measure so close to the election, while others do not want a replacement but a simple repeal, though the leadership does not think that would be a viable possibility.

"I think, to be honest with you, there's so much toxic coming out about Obamacare, which, as you know, is improving [the GOP's] political landscape. And convincing Americans that they don't like Obamacare, it's really taken a lot of the pressure away from Republicans to come forward with legislation," Louisiana GOP Rep. John Fleming, a co-sponsor of Roe's bill, told the Hill.

He added, however, that Republicans need to move their alternative because "the public is demanding it... and we need to give them our ideas."

A GOP leadership aide said Majority Leader Eric Cantor is working with key members to produce an Obamacare replacement bill with the intention to move a measure before the August break, but it remains unclear whether it will happen, the Hill reported.

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